"We'll be back."
Those were the last three words that Florida Atlantic men's basketball guard Nick Boyd boldly declared following the Owls' heartbreaking defeat to San Diego State in the Final Four of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
Boyd has seen an inspiring trajectory to his collegiate career. After playing four years of high school basketball in New Jersey — two apiece at Don Bosco and St. Mary’s where he was a two-time North Jersey Interscholastic Conference (NJIC) First Team selection and was named NJIC Player of the Year as a senior — he decided to spend his last year of high school at the Don Bosco Institute in Indiana during the 2019-20 season which is where head coach Dusty May recruited him.
Following an inaugural freshman campaign when he averaged 5.1 points, two rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 23 appearances, he missed the entire 2021-22 season due to injury.
But he came back the following year without missing a step, this time starting in all but two of FAU's 39 games. He showcased himself as a deadly perimeter threat while providing strong defense, putting up 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists on 45% shooting from the field and 40% from beyond the arc. The 40% shooting from 3-point range is the seventh highest in a single season in FAU history.
The biggest moment of Boyd's career to date came in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against fellow AAC foe Memphis. In the dying seconds of the game with the Owls needing a bucket down one, Boyd caught the ball at the corner as he drove into the paint and made the game-winning layup to help FAU pull out the 66-65 victory over the Tigers.
"I'm feeling blessed. I thank God for this moment. I don't even know how to really describe the moment, right now, it's a lot of emotions," Boyd said after the game.
"I told Coach in the timeout, I said, 'Coach, I got it'. I don't know why I was feeling that way, but I just said, 'Coach, let me get the ball'. I caught it in the corner. I was going to shoot the three, and he jumped for the shot fake. Vlad had a great seal that allowed me to get to the rim. I just thought about finishing no matter what."
Boyd went on to have a meaningful performance throughout March Madness, averaging 8.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. This included two 12-point displays against Tennessee in the Sweet Sixteen and San Diego State in the Final Four.
Heading into the 2023-24 season as the program’s all-time leader in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.23) with a lot to prove, especially after making the aforementioned statement following the loss in the Final Four, Boyd looks to improve his consistency game-by-game while becoming more vocal on the court.
"Just using my voice every day in practice. I feel like energies can change yourself so I'm using my voice as much as possible, giving positive vibes to my teammates so we can have great days and great practices," Boyd said.
He has garnered acclaim from May for the significant improvements he has made in his game throughout the offseason.
"They've improved their bodies and their skill set and just improved their knowledge of the game of basketball. They're a big reason for our success," May said regarding the development of both Boyd and big man Giancarlo Rosado.
"Nick Boyd is doing everything better, his pick-and-roll offense is elite right now," said May. "He's making tough shots and he's running our team."
Looking forward to their upcoming schedule, Boyd expressed excitement with the opportunity to travel all over the country with the Barstool and ESPN Invitationals the Owls are taking part in, not to mention marquee matchups with Illinois at Madison Square Garden in New York and Arizona at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. He is also anticipating the rematch they will have with Memphis during the second half of the season for conference play.
"We had a good battle against Memphis in March Madness. Honestly, throughout this whole conference, we got a bunch of good teams that we can beat…there are great teams, probably some of the better teams in the country, and we've got to be ready for that," Boyd stated.
The Final Four run was undeniable with the impact it had on the program and the university, but according to Boyd, he and the team are now seeing it in a different light while they gear up for the 2023-24 campaign.
"We're kinda looking past that now," Boyd said, "as we're really focused on this upcoming season and we want to have a good year game-by-game."